"Show Me, Show Me, Show Me" – A Discussion of the Privacy or Lack Thereof of Deck Lists at Livestreamed Events

This is the companion discussion topic for this article.

Heh, I was going to be chosen to be streamed at last years Nats (Canadian) because I was playing @JoshF and we were the highest ranked players that hadn’t been streamed yet.

Then they figured out that I was playing Wailord and chose the next match :stuck_out_tongue:


I think in general players prioritize event integrity over almost everything. (Competitive players at least — the ones who would be shown on stream.) Is it a disadvantage to not know your opponent’s full deck list while they know all 60 of your cards? Unequivocally, yes.

Does it add value to the livestream if an exact list is discussed, rather than a generalized one? I’d say so. That’s more compelling to me as a viewer, and if I was putting on a production I’d want to be reporting the best and most accurate information available.

@kazambolt do you have any thoughts on post-match interviews? If someone is playing an interesting tech and it pulls weight the showcased match, of course the interviewer should ask about it. They’d be remiss not to. In that case, most of the deck is shown on stream, and uniquenesses are highlighted. So it’s like, why not show the full deck list? We just watched and talked about it.

Is part of the problem the timing of when the deck list is discussed? (Between rounds; players are free to tune in. You mentioned the monitors being off in London, but can’t anyone still tune in on their phone?)

I think the sideboarding factor does make it much less detrimental for your deck to be public knowledge in Magic, and Pokemon really has no answer in that regard.

The most “fair” solution would be for all submitted deck lists to be available to all players at all times, but that’s logistically crazy to think about right now, and it doesn’t seem very fun to straight up know all your opponents’ decks.

In the end, I think you just kind of suck it up as a player and roll with whatever TPCi wants to do in the name of growth. I do think for Top 8 Pokemon should distribute deck lists like Magic does because at that point, it’s likely many of those players have been featured on stream and it makes sense to open up. Top 32? I’m not sure.


I think the best solution is to only put a player’s list on stream if the player allows it. Some may not care and say “go ahead” while others would value the privacy of their list especially if it runs some techs or is built in an unorthodox way. Or, especially for rogues, the player may not want other people copying their list and playing it. Now you can’t do anything if a list is put on Pokémon.com for making top 8 at a regionals, but that offers no advantage to anyone unless a person runs the same 60 as that person then tells that to each opponent.

Personally, I think the stream is great for competitors to get even more recognition as well as entertainment. But I also think you have to let the players decide wether they want their lists publicly shown during a tournament.

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I refuse to believe that a cookie-cutter list is that much less useful to the stream than a player’s actual one early in a tournament.

A. Putting actual lists on stream is flatly unfair to those who were randomly (or semirandomly) selected.
B. Putting actual lists on stream is unfair to those in the game that are not well-connected (to have someone at home feeding them that information).

It’s a giant information leak for marginal value added to a stream, and creates a systemic inequality among players. No offense to the stream viewers, but you’re not the reason this tournament is happening.

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I agree with withholding decklists… however, the way magic does it actually seems pretty solid in comparison.

Day 1 they interview a bunch of players who do deck techs. Then, on day two, they post the lists that aren’t still in contention. Then when the top 8 starts, they post the rest.

Presently Pokemon fails at coverage in general. 3rd party tournaments in Magic have better coverage of their events then pokemon, so so.ethi g needs to be done and while I see the argument that we should not simply follow magic, as someone who has played on the pro tour for magic twice now, something needs to change, and I think taken a page out of magics book is a start.


Absolutely, but I don’t think it adds enough to merit the tradeoff of “the rest of the room knows your exact 60” for 9-15 players.

I think it’s fine to discuss tech cards, but then comes the problem with “how many of X does this person play?” That’s more of my problem with revealing an exact decklist, you know if they’re only playing 3 VS Seeker over 4, 1 Lysandre over 2, 2 switch outs over 3, etc. Knowing exact counts of key cards is more important than a one of tech that most people will have heard you’re playing by the later rounds.

I think the problem is more so that players are able to have a friend back home sending them the lists that appeared on stream. Or even to cause more chaos, posting those lists publicly online somewhere for everyone at the tournament to see. I don’t expect most players to have their phone and watch the stream while they’re at the tournament, and it takes place when you’re playing your matches anyways so it’s hard to actually see very much of the stream.

Sure that’s the most fair, but that’s kind of ridiculous. It’s just as fair to have no one know anyone else’s decks.

I mean, we don’t have any other choice :laughing: I do want to support the stream and the growth of the game, I just think that TPCi could be handling things at least slightly better right now. Maybe we’ll see some changes by the time Australia rolls around.

I would definitely endorse what Magic does for Top 8 though. By the time we got to Top 8 at the London International, I think all 8 players had been streamed, or at least 7 of them for sure. The ones who one got deck profiles, the others were lucky. Why should the winners get punished for winning on a stream that they had no choice but to appear on?

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The problem is, what does the stream do when a player says no? Dead air for 10 minutes? Talk about a different deck? They can only improvise so much.

Quick note for anyone who hasn’t been to a big event like this, there is basically no randomness to their selection. Top players appear on the stream in the first few rounds because the commentators specifically picked them. At London, I was 5-0, 6-0, 7-0 but they picked other matches because they didn’t want to stream me vs Yveltal. In Columbus for Nationals, I was picked when I played Jason Klaczynski because we both had 2 Byes and they wanted to talk up the bye system.

Honestly, I think this is even worse, because the top players likely have better chances to make it to the later rounds, ensuring that the decklists that they revealed have more of an impact on the tournament in the later rounds.

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I would like to add a bit of insight into the MTG contrast mentioned herein.

There are three MTG circuits regularly getting streamed:

  1. Star City Games
  2. Grand Prix
  3. Pro Tour

At the Star City level, Nick Miller will regularly interview 2-4 players on their deck in entirety throughout the event. Sideboard included. These deck techs will be posted to the Star City website during the competition. The players will sit there with all 75 cards laid out for everyone to see, and discuss their strategies on in-game play, and how to sideboard. This is done between rounds during both day 1 and 2. In case this catches anyone off guard, you read me correctly: players will freely discuss their exact strategies and how they can be beaten.

At the GP level, deck information is withheld and dispersed in the manner mentioned by Alex. The exact lists are not revealed to the public until after the event is completed.

At the Pro Tour level, I’ve seen broad ranges of stream coverage. I’ve seen players discussing their exact lists on SportsCenter style studios where the cards are broadcasted on wall sized monitors. I’ve heard analysis that breaks down every detail of the decks being played. The whole process is taken to a premium level.

The bottom line is that there is a culture of information sharing in MTG that is unparalleled in Pokemon. Gasman is absolutely correct to post his deck ahead of time. It really doesn’t matter. I just got home from Friday Night Magic. I discussed sideboard strategy during game play in just about every round. The fact of the matter is quite obvious: you have to draw your game winning cards; if you don’t you lose. Since Magic is not an “entire deck” game, and it is largely won on the quality of top decks, information sharing is non-threatening. I can see why this is an issue for Pokemon, but the fact that 10% of your deck is not available to you at the beginning of the game due to the prize function of Pokemon is a great equalizer.

In case anyone was in doubt: I am in full support of free distribution of all information.


Hmm. So it’s partially convenience that makes flashing the list such a big deal? I guess I’m assuming that by watching a three-game set, one could deduce nearly all 60 cards in both decks. But unless you’ve got super dedicated teammates at home, you’re still going to be mostly in the dark while at the tournament.

Right now, no. And maybe it will always be that way. But many professional sporting competitions I do not think would be happening without audiences and fans. They’re the ones that ultimately are funding the athletes, either directly (by purchasing tickets, team gear) or indirectly (being subjected to advertising, taking in licensed media). Pokémon is different obviously and I have no idea if the streams are actually moving any significant consumer dollars. I guess we’ll find out in another couple of years if coverage and prize pools have continually grown.

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Magic grew at much faster rate because of entertaining streams. Following a successful format should not be seen as a negative when there are obvious parallels.

Games like this grow when people who interested can easily find out helpful information and that is something that I think is already hampering the game’s growth. SCG and Channel Fireball give Magic players a place to go to find free advice and articles so someone who says “Hey, I want to be competitive in Magic” already has a huge advantage over the player that says “Hey, I want to be competitive in Pokemon”. Many of the top players are still at the top or at the very least relevant to the scene despite all this information being available.

If you’re a top player, you want more players because you want the prize pools to continue to grow. You want more tournaments because it gives you higher incentives to put the work in to stay at the top. The Pokemon play and quality of streaming right now is severely lacking and makes it difficult to get new players interested.

While “stream viewers” may not be the reason the tournament is happening, tournaments are held to get more players interested in purchasing and playing the game. Streaming has had a major effect on that and for a twenty year old game that’s been running tournaments for that long, it is a major loss to not have that form of promotion getting out to the players.